Scorching temperatures in the summer months can cause health problems, especially for those in their elderly years.
Due to heightened risk of experiencing health dangers, such as sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, seniors should proceed with caution and pay attention to the following warning signs and symptoms of heat-related risks.
Sunburn is damage to the skin from the sun’s strong, ultraviolet (UV) rays. Be sure to apply sunscreen before and during any time spent outside. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplying every two hours. This will provide your skin with necessary protection from damaging UV rays. If you feel the sun is extraordinarily strong outside, seek shade if possible.
Dehydration occurs when the body is lacking its necessary amount of water, and more fluids are leaving the body than entering it. Drinking an appropriate amount of water to keep yourself hydrated is extremely important in the heat. It’s normal to lose water everyday through bodily functions, but profuse sweating can lead to quick depletion of liquids. Planning ahead to bring water with you is key to quenching your thirst during extended periods of time in the heat.
Heat exhaustion is an illness that can occur after long periods of heat exposure that is often coupled with dehydration. Keeping an eye on the heat index, wearing loose, light clothing and drinking plenty of water can help you prevent heat exhaustion. If left untreated or unaddressed, in some cases, heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke.
Heat stroke, the most serious form of heat injury, happens when the body’s core temperature is dangerously high — rising to or even exceeding 106 degrees within 10 to 15 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At its highest intensity, heat stroke can be damaging to the brain and other internal organs, or fatal. It can lead to the failure of the body’s temperature control system and largely affects those 50 years and over. Bringing a hat and a cool towel outdoors, wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of fluids and wearing light clothing can help prevent the development of a heat stroke.
While spending time with friends and family in the blazing summer temperatures, be sure to pay attention to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, seek medical assistance. If you are experiencing further health issues, consult with your doctor to determine appropriate medical care.